Roman J. Israel, Esq: Interview with Star Denzel Washington

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Research for Role

Denzel Washington: I did a lot of research on the spectrum and Asperger’s, because I loved the script and I read it and I said, why does he get into this trouble? Why does he…I just did a lot of research about Asperger’s and felt like he has trouble. Why is he alone? Why is he not able to communicate well? Why did his boss put him in the back of the law firm? Why did he not let him out? So I used the research that I did on Asperger’s to help me with that.

Physical Look?

DW: In the 1970s, I was rocking that look. I used all kinds of handles, again, coming out of the research. And what the script tells me, it just seemed like somehow he was stuck in the 70’s, through the music that you hear, the music he listens to, the way he dresses and the hair. One of the aspects of some people on the spectrum is that their coordination is not so good. I wore extra size shoes, and just did a lot of things to give me the feeling that I wanted.


Downtown LA

DW: When we were at the law office of George’s character, Collin’s character, we had a great view, a 300-degree view and there’s so many new buildings going up downtown. I go down there for the Laker games but I hadn’t spent that much time down there in years. And it’s amazing the transformation. Even just driving home to go from that downtown environment to Koreatown then to the Hispanic neighborhoods then to Mid Wilshire to the Hancock Park kind of neighborhood and more L.A. and then suddenly you’re in Beverly Hills, it’s an amazing…and even downtown where all of this wealth seems to be, all of these buildings going up and then you go a couple, three blocks and that whole tent city where all the homeless are, I don’t know what they’re going to do with…they’re being pushed further. You could tell me, what are they doing? Are they getting pushed further south or further toward Alameda?


Fulfilling Dreams

DW: I took an art appreciation class in the fifth grade and I remember so well learning about the Impressionists, the Realists, the Surrealists from Salvador Dali to Modigliani to Van Gogh, was one of my favorite. And I said, whenever I get two dollars to rub together I’m going to buy a Van Gogh. When I got two dollars the Van Gogh cost four dollars. That was always a dream of mine. I still collect art but I don’t have Van Gogh money.


Fighting for Civil Rights

DW: It’s a different world and it’s a different way of fighting. A single voice is harder to even hear. With the acceleration of information we don’t stay with anything that long anyway.  I’m hopeful there are those that are out there on the front lines, then they have to use the new tools that will give help to fight that fight. You can’t fight that fight the way that Roman did, it’s a different world we live in. I was talking to some young people, we were doing interviews yesterday, and they were hopeful about the future and adamant about standing up and fighting for things, so I was glad to hear. As we get wise we can get more cynical. But I pray that the younger generation doesn’t lose their fire and doesn’t give up. There’s still those out there on the front lines, buy they don’t necessarily get the front page.


Raising Sons?

DW: I have tried to do a great job. Yes sir. No sir. Yes ma’am. No ma’am. They’re gentlemen and women. I hope that what you just said is not true. But do you think it is true that it’s not there anymore?


Predatory Behavior and Free Will Now

DW: Everything that was in the darkness will come to the light, eventually. Going back to what you were saying about being polite, there is a spirit of meanness now in the world. People can hide at home and comment and say anything. And we are getting more divided and more divisive and more polarized and more angry. We’ve all been blessed with free will. That’s what makes us different from any other animal on the planet, we have free will. And we live in an age now with the acceleration and the proliferation of information with free will out of control. We’re free to go in any direction we want to go with, positively or negatively. And it’s something we really have to watch out for and be aware of, where we’re headed as human beings, as a country, as a world. But I’m hopeful that we recognize that and that we find a way to come together.

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